FDA lifts import ban for genetically modified salmon eggs

The FDA originally cleared AquaAdvantage salmon, which is genetically engineered to grow year-round and thus reach the market twice as fast as unmodified salmon, in 2015 following a lengthy, years-long review, CNN wrote.

The FDA says that decision allowed for the import ban to be lifted. AquaBounty Chief Executive Slyvia Wulf said the action will allow the company "to begin producing and marketing AquAdvantage salmon in the U.S".

Following years of health and safety assessments, the salmon became the first GM animal to be approved for human consumption by the FDA in 2015. However, U.S Congress passed a law in 2016 mandating the formation of labelling guidelines informing customers that the fish was genetically modified-standards that weren't finalised until late past year.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who blocked USA sale of the AquAdvantage salmon since 2015, said she is skeptical that federal GMO food labeling rules will mandate labeling of the fish, so she is pursuing legislation to require "genetically engineered" to appear in the market name.

In a statement, the FDA said the recently issued GMO food labeling from USDA supersede its authority over labels on biotech food.

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Also in 2016, Congress passed a law directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set a national mandatory standard for disclosing bioengineered foods. But now that the FDA's alert has been "deactivated", AquaBounty will soon start importing the eggs to their growing facilities in Albany, Indiana.

But in 2016, Congress said the salmon could not be sold in the United States until the FDA finalized labeling guidelines to inform consumers the product was genetically engineered.

As the Associated Press reported, however, a "coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups" filed a lawsuit asking for the FDA's approval of the fish to be overturned. Aquabounty chief Sylvia Wulf told the AP she expected certification for an IN growing facility IN "weeks" and could receive eggs soon afterward, but it would take about 18 months for the salmon to reach their target weight. AquaBounty says this won't be an issue for their salmon, as they are raised in tanks, are modified to be all female, and are sterile.

In late 2015, just after FDA approval of the GE salmon, activists said they had commitments from 10 USA grocery chains not to sell the salmon. AquaBounty said its GE salmon would reduce US reliance on imported seafood.

George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, one of the groups suing the FDA, said the company's tests shows it's not 100 percent certain the fish would be sterile, and concerns about it getting in the environment would grow if the AquaBounty's operations were to expand. "We think a remedy in our case would stop sale of the fish before they're allowed to be sold", he adds.

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